British Royal Life Traditions and Rules

The royal family in Britain is one of the most-watched families in the world. When there is a marriage, a new baby or a scandal, the world tunes in to get the details. There are several rules that members of the royal family are expected to follow. Some of them are understandable and help to maintain the family’s reputation. However, others are a bit strange and don’t serve an obvious purpose.

It may seem that being a “royal” is extremely glamorous. Many people fantasize about living the charmed life of a prince or princess. However, nothing is always what it seems, even when it comes to being a royal family member. There’s lots of pressure to stick to the rules. Some traditions prove that being a royal family member can sometimes be challenging. Here are a few rules that family members must abide by.

Honoring the Queen

Honouring Queen Elizabeth II

When to stand

It’s a tradition to stand when the queen stands. This rule applies to members of the royal family. However, other people who are in the presence of the queen should stand as a sign of respect as well.

Curtsying and bowing

All members of the royal family must bow or curtsy when greeting the queen. Men are required to bow with their necks, while women should curtsy.


When the royal family is dining together, everyone has to stop eating once the queen takes her last bite. Hopefully, the queen will be generous when the family is enjoying an elaborate meal. If not, you’ll have to end dinner whenever the queen is full, even if this is your first meal.


Prince Harry and Meghan Markle Royal wedding

Name change

All members of the royal family who get married take on new names. For instance, when Megan Markle married Prince Harry earlier this year, her name changed from Markle to Mountbatten-Windsor. The surname Windsor comes from Queen Elizabeth and her descendants. The Mountbatten name comes from the descendants of Prince Philip, according to the royal website.

When Prince Harry’s older brother, Prince William, married Kate Middleton, her last name became Mountbatten-Windsor as well. The princes are considered junior members of the royal court. Prince William is the older brother, so will become king before Prince Harry. He will have the option of changing his name again as king.

No proposals without permission

The Royal Marriages Act has been in place since 1772. Members of the royal party have to get the approval of a monarch before they can propose. Some royals have been able to marry people they actually love or are at least fond of. However, it’s clear that many marriages were approved (or disapproved) to maintain the royal family’s reputation.

Myrtle bouquets

Every bride in a royal family wedding ceremony must carry a bouquet. The bride’s wedding bouquet has to contain myrtle.

Children in weddings

All royal weddings must have a wedding party that consists of several small children. These are often relatives of the bride or groom, and the children are particularly young in age. However, they should be old enough to walk down the aisle.

Marrying those of other religions

Now, members of the royal family can marry a person of any faith. Until 2011, this was not the case, since royal family members were not permitted to marry Roman Catholics.

Public displays of affection

Royal couples know that public displays of affection are frowned upon. Many couples don’t even hold hands in public. Prince Harry and Megan Markle are pushing the envelope when it comes to this rule. It’s clear to everyone that they are very much in love, and have held hands in pictures and interviews. The rule of no PDA is especially enforced when royal couples are traveling. You often see Prince William and Kate Middleton in pictures with their hands folded, standing next to each other.

Political Behavior and Other Social Rules

royal family social rules


Royal family members cannot speak about politics in public. Royal family members are also not permitted to vote in government elections. Since royals can’t give their opinion about politics, they are also prohibited from holding a political office of any kind.

Playing monopoly

For some reason, royals are not allowed to play the board game Monopoly. Marie Claire asserts that this is perhaps one of the royal rules that the queen will probably bend on.

Conversations at dinner and meal options

The queen has a formula for talking to guests at dinner. During the first course at a dinner party, the queen converses with the people seated to her right. During the second course, she begins talking to the person on her left. People are seated in order of preference at dinner parties. Other factors, such as language, hobbies, and age, are also considered when seating arrangements are being created. The Office of the Marshal of the Court is in charge of making the seating chart for parties. The people who work in the office are called mini hosts.

The royal family is also not allowed to eat shellfish. It is believed that it’s easier to poison shellfish than other foods. So no one from the family is permitted to consume it.


royal family traveling

Wearing all black

When a royal family member travels out of town, he or she is required to pack an all-black ensemble. The outfit is to be worn to a funeral in case there is a sudden death.

Heirs travel separately

Two heirs to the throne are not allowed to travel together. This rule takes effect after the younger heir reaches the age of 12. For instance, Prince George is the son of Prince Harry. This means that they are both heir to the throne. However, once Prince George is 12, he and his father will not be able to travel together.

Autographs, photographs, and selfies

Royal family members are not allowed to take selfies, and they can’t sign autographs for security reasons. It is disappointing to tourists who want to capture the memory of seeing a royal. It’s also not proper to touch a royal in a photo. However, when Prince William and Kate Middleton took a picture with LeBron James, he wasn’t aware of this rule. James put his arm around Middleton for the photograph, and it’s clear to see that she’s uncomfortable. Perhaps she was more concerned about what the queen would say than taking a memorable photo with a star athlete.

Fashion and Clothing Restrictions

Wearing fur

Royals aren’t supposed to wear fur. However, many members of the royal family have broken this fashion rule, and have looked great doing it. This rule was put in place by King Edward III in the 12th century.

Dressing modestly

Much of the world takes their fashion cues from the royal family. Members are not permitted to wear casual clothing. Royals also have to wear dressy, modest clothing at all times. Female members of the royal family are also required to wear hats to any type of formal event.

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Thomas McCoy was born in Bethesda, Maryland and studied finance at the Kogod School of Business at American University in Washington D.C. before heading to New York and a job as a forex trader on Wall Street. Successful enough to launch his own, online forex trading platform, Thomas has long had a keen interest in the places where the worlds of finance and technology meet. As a prolific blogger, Thomas considers himself an expert on cryptocurrencies, casino asset restructuring, and emerging technologies set to change the way people do business.